It’s that time of year- the leaves are changing and Thanksgiving is coming, both in Canada and the United States. Soon we will begin thinking about pulling out of storage the precious table linens, those heirloom tablecloths and embroidered linen or cotton napkins. Treasured linens don’t do anyone any good slumbering away in a cupboard or a closet- use them and enjoy them! If you are fortunate to have some vintage pieces, it can be tricky to know how to care for them. But here we have a step-by-step guide on caring for your vintage pieces so that your table looks lovely and fresh, even when the linens are decades (or possibly a century!) old.
- Pull out the pieces and take a close look at them. Sometimes it can be hard to notice food stains until they begin to yellow with age, and sadly those stains have usually been set in quite firmly when ironed. Some light colouring on vintage linens is normal, and with some dim, candlelit lighting would hardly be noticeable. If you find the stains are too severe, consider tea dying them – they will still be beautiful, and the stains won’t be nearly as noticeable. But if they just need a refresh, keep reading!
- Wash the linens – all the table cloths, placemats, and napkins – that you are planning on using. Fill a clean sink with tepid water and a capful of Eucalan in your favourite scent. If they have some stubborn spots that have not been set with an iron already, let soak for an hour. If the fabric can handle it, gently scrub with a cloth or a soft bristled toothbrush. If the fabric is more delicate, consider using a Eucalan stain treating towelette to help get the marks out.
- Hang items to dry somewhere away from sunlight (which can cause yellowing). Once dry, inspect closely to see if there are any other marks that need another wash. Repeat washing if you think that they need a bit more work, and you can add full strength Eucalan to the stains and let soak again. Do not iron until you are comfortable with how they look.
- Once you feel that they are looking their best, iron them. Make sure the surface of your iron is clean, and use a spray bottle to spray the fabric’s surface to ensure a smooth finish. Adjust heat settings as necessary for moving between cotton, linen, and lace. Be extra careful with lace sections and embroidery. If your piece has any applique, use a light heat setting, in case the applique is made from polyester or other man-made fabrics. We recommend using a white pressing cloth to protect delicate fibers.
- Set out your table and enjoy! And remember, once your meal is finished, don’t let the linens sit too long with fresh marks on them before washing them again. Keep some Eucalan stain treating towelettes on hand to spot treat any fresh marks during or immediately after the meal, and wash them as soon as you can to prevent further stains on your vintage linens.
Looking for inspiration on how dress your table beautifully for Thanksgiving? We have a great Pinterest board full of stunning ideas!